Former Blackwater chief Erik Prince is operating again in southern Iraq, BuzzFeed News reported over the weekend. Prince’s new security and logistics company Frontier Services Group (FSG) is based out of Hong Kong and is reportedly operating with backing from the Chinese government.
Prince, the billionaire brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, became chairman of FSG in Hong Kong five years ago and was reported in February of 2019 to have signed “a preliminary deal with authorities in China to build a training centre in Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims have experienced a huge security crackdown.” BuzzFeed reports that FSG's biggest investor is the state-owned Chinese company CITIC.
Blackwater, which was operating in Iraq on U.S. government contracts, was banned from Iraq after contractors opened fire on and killed unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007. Buzzfeed reports that while FSG has not publicly confirmed it is now operating in Iraq, an FSG subsidiar, Frontier Logistics Consultancy DMCC, registered with Iraq’s Ministry of Trade in February 2018. BuzzFeed added that its office in Iraq was in oil-rich Basra, according to a source familiar with the company.
BuzzFeed notes that foreign security companies in Iraq are required to obtain a license in order to operate and claims their attempts to confirm FSG’s status in the country where unsuccessful. FSG has also expanded its offices outside of Hong Kong to Africa, China, Southeast Asia and Dubai.